Kids need toys. That’s how they use their energy, learn, entertain themselves, have fun and fulfill their fantasies. Adults need toys too. They also have unused energy, fantasies, and yearn for fun and entertainment. For kids everything is toys. If they are not given ‘real toys’, they will be fooling around with household objects, outdoors objects, expensive useless objects, live objects, dangerous objects – any objects. Adults know the difference. They understand what is “this is not a toy”. They provide kids with what is ‘a toy’. Kids play, parents pay – this is unfair. Smart parents choose toys that are beneficial for both parties. The toy should be a babysitter, a teacher, a tutor, a life-coach and also a fun thing shared with parents.
Parents buy ‘baby Einstein’ and expect it to make their baby into an Einstein. Not always happening. While all babies are born geniuses, for some reason most of them lose their geniuseness by the age of 5. Preserving the whiz kid requires parental intervention. And how the parents, who have lost their born-brilliance decades ago, can help? They use smart toys. Toys to entertain and amuse kids (and their parents) in educative way.
Parents also learn from kids toys. Some parents look outside the toy box and create really amazing stuff. Like "Directional Locking and Irreversible Interactions in Deterministic Hydrodynamics Separations in Microfluidic Devices". It does not sound like fun, but the “Directional locking…” invention was inspired by Lego’s. Go Lego’s! Other smart parents – cancer researchers – came up with a method of transporting chemotherapy drugs inside a tumor after blocking its blood supply, when they saw a balloon-within-a-balloon toy. Go toys!
Not many parents have life-changing inventions to brag about, but all mommies and daddies share other significant achievements. Like potty training. This is quite a creative and time-consuming project. Smart parents delegate the assignment. They hire a Japanese assistant. Who is Shimajiro Toilet Training Tiger – a powerful toy teaching kiddies how to do the poo-poo and pee-pee in the loo-loo. The toy attaches to the toilet paper holder and yells out encouraging phrases while you go. Toddlers love this game. They get to push a button to select the transaction they are about to execute, and later “I did it!” button to hear the tiger sing his happy toilet song. Go kids! Parents love it too. Why not to treat yourself to a cheering catchy tune that will not leave your head for days? We all need some positive reinforcement. And, by the way, there is a version of Shimajiro for adults.
Toys give children unlimited prospects on life. Take the queen of dolls – Barbie. She is representing beauty and fashion, coaching professional orientation, from Barbie-truck-driver to Barbie-showgirl, teaching family values, from marriage to divorce. Barbie gives our children a chance to live glamorous lives, own posh estates, cars, horses, jewelry and other snooty things. For many kids the plastic version of luxury is as good as it gets. Thank you, Barbie.
Barbie is definitely not the original baby doll – an artificial infant to be wrapped in blanket, rocked and cuddled. There is no shortage for these maternal-instinct-enhancers. And they are also becoming freakishly realistic. They blink, they cry, they laugh, and they suck – literally. A popular Spain-native Bebe Gloton doll was born with a tagline “You shouldn’t have to wait until you have breasts before you start breastfeeding your baby.” This charming lifelike doll comes with a special halter top for pre-pubescent girls to wear, that has little flowers in the place of nipples. When the doll’s mouth is placed on the flower it begins to suckle, making a delightful loud noise. When the baby is detached from the nipple, it should be held vertical (preferably head up) and gently petted on the back. This lets you enjoy the most adorable burping sound. Is it cool or what?
While Barbie cannot be seen sucking on a milkless flower (she is a Babe, not a Baby), she is also catching up on the idea of motherhood. A pregnant Barbie is a beautiful educational toy, which helps clear up your child’s confusion about childbirth – at least partially. You can open Barbie’s tummy and see a perfect baby inside. Both the mother-to-be and the offspring-to be are absolutely glamorous.
Japanese toymakers are not so much concerned about glamour. They are going after real life with all its unglamorous realities. Their ‘she-is-having-a-baby’ doll is a terrifying anatomically correct device that should be used with caution. If the unsightly proportions of the doll and ugly stretch marks on her abdomen did not convince your little girl to never have children, you can go further and show her an unattractive fetus inside. If this is not enough, you can demonstrate the miracle of childbirth either via C-section or natural way, when the baby is catapulting from the expanding birth canal and hanging between mother’s legs on the umbilical cord, like an astronaut attached to a spaceship. Some parents would choose an old-fashioned stork toy.
Japanese vendors definitely take their toy concept to the next level. And while the toilet-training tiger is not a bad idea, they cannot stop on the lavatory theme. The Hokkaido Poo Poo Bear is their version of Teddy with a pile of poop on its head. Why? Does it poop? Does it eat poop? That's not clear. The only thing that is for sure is this bear is very enthusiastic about being associated with fecal matter. Maybe poop means something different in Japan?
And what about Pee and Poo plush toys – an adorable yellow drop and a chubby pile of brown stuff? These soft toys are designed to make childrencomfortable with pee and poo. And why do you want to make them comfortable with the idea of playing with excrements? Yet to be figured out.
What happened to our beloved stuffed toys? The whole idea was to create something soft, huggable and pacifying – whatever it may represent. Apparently, the inventors have run out of ‘whatever’. There were animals, plants, happy faces and fairy tales heroes. Now there are novelties like stuffed STDs. The Pox, The Clap, The Herpes, The Chlamydia. Charming plush images, just like Pokemon, but the names are easier to say. Except maybe the last one.
We want our kids to learn through toys, but we don’t want them to know too much. We don’t need toys to exhibit violence and horror. And we are not even talking about video games that can traumatize children, as well as their parents. We are talking about kiddy toys that should be hazard free, eco safe and parent friendly. Thrifty parents, who don’t want to pay for years of kid’s therapy, will never buy sadistic toys like Dead-Ducky, Soft-And-Cuddly-Severed-Head, Glow-in-the-Dark-Flesh-Eating-Zombie or Chopped-Up-Lady.
Playthings should promote good stuff. The Leapfrog Alphabet-Pal Caterpillar was doing great job teaching kids the alphabet. But even this basic educational toy can malfunction. Some maggots came out defective and had their own idea of practical vocabulary. They were nicknamed ‘cursing caterpillars’ as they actually taught the kids bad words. Fortunately all the swearing leapfrog toys could be returned for a full refund.
Toys should be practical and give the youngster ideas for future profession. The old Operation game will not cut out for today’s ‘want-to-be-a-doctor’ kids. Today they dissect realistic human dummies with authentic internal organs or at least operate on a knitted Experimental Bunny with removable knitted brain. If your kid wants to be a hair stylist, it is okay for him to butcher the doll’s hair. For other beauty salon occupations there are convenient toys, including ‘You-can-shave-the-baby’ doll with her armpits, legs and crotch area covered with thick bright-red fur. Have a nice practice, kids!
All babies are born geniuses. And then they lose it. Only the God-chosen ones keep it and develop greatness. Usually they have smart parents, who buy them good toys.